This Indonesian Thousand layers cake is the ULTIMATE layered cake where a spicy cake layer (which tastes like gingerbread) is alternated with a natural layer. And that not only looks beautiful, but it also tastes super delicious. I can't get enough of it and you probably can't either!
You will love this Thousand layers cake. Not too sweet, the spices well matched and so creamy and soft. And... it's much easier than it looks (but we don't tell anyone)...
An original Indonesian cake recipe
This delicious delicacy, which seems to be a combination between a cake and pie, but then layered with crêpes, has been on my wish list to make myself for some time. I had already tasted it so many times, but it seemed quite a challenge to get started with it myself. So here was my chance!
Just like the Greek baklava, an English trifle, and the Italian tiramisu, this is a classic sweet delicacy, this time from the Indonesian cuisine. Many times eaten on birthdays, during the holidays or a wedding. And by baking this cake for those times you have something to celebrate, means you will definitely get a winner in your hands.
This recipe is inspired on Suzanne's recipe on the blog Laundry Food.
A delicious homemade thousand layer spice cake. Spicy sweet layers in two colors that you keep alternating. It gives a creamy, soft cake full of flavor!
The history of Lapis legit
Now you may be wondering how the 'spekkoek' (Dutch translation of this cake) originated? Well, there are different stories about that.
The first is that Dutch people who lived in the East Indies missed Dutch speculaas so much that gingerbread spices were added to this cake to get that holiday feeling (the time when speculaas/gingerbread is so popular).
These spices have been added to the recipe for the traditional Indonesian Lapis Legit, a layered cake. The recipe was then taken to the Netherlands and became known throughout our country.
A second story is that it is actually a derivative of the German Baumkuchen, which is also a layered cake. This cake is rolled up so that you get circles inside. And that looks like the annual rings in a tree trunk (hence the word Baumkuchen which means tree cookie in German).
And then there are stories that the layer cake originated from the Portuguese colonies in Asia where it is known as Bebinca. As is often the case, we will never know for sure, but that does not make this delicacy any less delicious.
By the way, don't call this cake Kun lapis legit, although it means cake with layers Kun lapis legit is made with pudding or jelly and the layers are much thicker.
- Butter - Use butter for this recipe and definitely no substitutes. The butter should be at room temperature for the batter to have a good airy texture.
- Eggs - This recipe separates the yolk from the egg white. I always use three bowls. One for the egg whites, one for the yolks and the last one I use to break the egg above and capture the egg whites. Under no circumstances should any trace of egg yolks be added to the egg whites. So after I’m sure that there is no trace of yolk in it, I add it to the egg white bowl. When only a trace of yolk has got into your egg whites, you will not be able to beat the egg whites stiff. By breaking the eggs over a bowl, you can possibly get rid of the whites with a dash of yolk (and make a nice fried egg out of them).
- Cloves, Nutmeg, Cardamom, and Cinnamon - The spices in this cake and these are also used in a gingerbread spice mixture.
Step 1 - Beat the butter, egg yolks and sugar
- Place the butter in a bowl and mix on high speed for three minutes until airy.
- Add the egg yolks to the butter and mix for another two minutes.
- Spoon the sugar teaspoon by teaspoon, while continuing to mix, into the butter-egg mixture.
- Mix everything together at high speed for another minute.
Step 2 - Make the batter
- Beat the egg whites until stiff. Use a grease-free bowl and mixing hooks and make sure there is no egg yolk in your egg whites. Otherwise, you will never get your whites stiff.
- Add ⅓ of the egg whites to the butter mixture and gently fold in with a spatula so that the egg whites get used to the batter. Mix until it is incorporated.
- Now add the rest of the egg white and mix gently (so that the batter remains as airy as possible).
- Then add the flour scoop by scoop to the batter, while gently mixing it in with a spatula.
Step 3 - Add spices to the batter
- Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. TIP weigh the batter and take half the weight out to a second bowl.
- To the first bowl, add cinnamon and ground cloves.
- Also add the cardamom and nutmeg to the batter in the first bowl.
- Gently mix this into the batter, with a spatula, until well blended.
Step 4 - Fill the tin and bake the thousand layers cake
- Grease the springform pan with butter. Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking paper.
- Spoon about 6 to 8 tablespoons of batter without spices (natural) over the bottom. Spread with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Place in the center of a preheated oven at 350 °F (180°C (conventional oven)) for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Turn on the grill. Spread 6 to 8 tablespoons of spiced batter on top of the first layer and slide the springform back into the oven. Bake for four minutes until the top layer is set. Remove from the oven.
- Now continue with the same amount of natural batter, bake for four minutes and then the spiced batter, bake for another four minutes. Repeat until the batter is done. After the fourth layer, lower the springform to the bottom rack in the oven. After all the batter is in the springform and you baked the cake under the grill for 4 minutes, turn the oven back to 300 °F (150 °C. Cover the cake with aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. After that remove the cake pan. Serve the Indonesian layer cakes in thin slices.
- Chocolate thousand layer spice cake - To get the layers browner and get a hint of chocolate you can add 2 tablespoons (unsweetened) cocoa to the spiced batter. Also add 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar to the natural layer.
- Pandan cake - Divide the batter equally between three bowls. Add nothing to the first bowl (natural batter as in this recipe), the spices to the second bowl, and ½ teaspoon pandan extract to the third bowl. Pandan extract gives a green color, tastes a bit nutty and sweet. It is also referred to as Asian vanilla. You can get it at the Asian supermarket. Follow the baking instructions in this recipe, but alternate with the three batters.
- Replace all spices with 2 tablespoons of gingerbread spices.
- Not a direct replacement, but also very tasty, add a teaspoon of ground anise to the batter.
- Store at room temperature, in an airtight container. This keeps the cake good for up to three days.
- Freeze the lapis legit (or part of the thousand layers cake). Pack it in a freezer box or bag. The cake will keep well in the freezer for up to two months.
- A good hand mixer is necessary for baking and certainly with this recipe. This mixer has enough power to beat both the egg whites and the butter until fluffy.
- This 10 inch (26 cm) diameter springform tin conducts the heat well so that the cake is cooked evenly throughout. It has a non-stick coating, which makes it easy to clean.
- Gently mix the egg whites and flour into the dough with this spatula. This keeps the batter very airy. And a second advantage, with this spatula you can also scoop and scrape your bowl well.
- Use all ingredients at room temperature. Butter and eggs take in more air at room temperature. This makes the cake smoother.
- If you want to see the layers on the outside, cut a thin layer off the edge of your cake. I didn’t do that because I like this cake so much, I don’t want to discard any piece of it 😉 .
- Use a grease-free, clean bowl and clean mixing hooks to beat the egg whites. And make sure that no egg yolk (not even a tiny amount) gets into the egg whites. Fat ensures that the egg whites can no longer be beaten stiff.
- Stay near the grill. Every grill is different and has its own power. The time in this recipe is a guideline, but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
- Start by baking the cake in the middle of the oven. Because the cake gets higher and higher by adding the layers, you have to put it on the lowest level in the oven after layer four. Otherwise, it will burn.
- If you don't get the batter evenly spread, add it to the cake and let it stand for a minute. The butter in the batter will melt slightly due to the warm cake and you can spread it out without damaging the previous layer.
- You cannot use a convection oven with this recipe. The cake will then become too dry. Use a conventional oven (top-bottom heat) in combination with a grill.
Officially, there must be at least 13 layers in this Indonesian cake. But you can also make the layers a bit thicker (therefore the recipe will take less time to make). Or you choose to make even more layers. Do not make the layers too thin (minimum ⅛ inch (2 mm)) otherwise, because the cake then will become dry.
Other Delicious Recipes
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Thousand layers cake (Lapes legit)
Pas met de knoppen het aantal personen aan.
- 4 sticks butter unsalted, some extra to grease the springform (2 ¼ cup)
- 10 egg yolks size L
- 2½ cups sugar fine
- 10 egg whites size L, no yolk should be present
- 2 cups flour
- 2½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180°C) top and bottom heat.
- Grease a 10 inch (26 cm) springform pan with butter. Place a baking paper on the bottom.
- Beat the butter with a mixer on the highest setting for three minutes.4 sticks butter
- Add the egg yolks to the butter and mix for two minutes.10 egg yolks
- While mixing, add the sugar to the butter mixture, scoop by scoop. When all the sugar has been added, mix for another minute.2½ cups sugar
- In a clean, grease-free bowl with clean mixing hooks, beat the egg whites until stiff.10 egg whites
- Add ⅓ of the stiff egg whites to the butter mixture and mix gently with the spatula. This will allow the batter to get used to the fluffy egg whites. Mix until well blended.
- Now add the rest of the egg whites to the bowl and gently mix into the batter.
- Fold in the flour, spoon by spoon, into the batter with a spatula. When you're done, equally divide the batter between two bowls.2 cups flour
- Place the spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom in the first bowl and mix gently with the spatula through the batter until they’re well incorporated.2½ tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1½ teaspoon ground cloves, 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- Spoon 6 to 8 tablespoons of the batter without spices (natural) into the springform pan. Place the springform pan in the center of the oven and bake for four minutes.
- Now put the oven on the grill position.
- Spoon 6 to 8 tablespoons of spiced batter on top of the previous layer. Place under the grill and bake for four minutes.* Take out and make a new layer with the natural batter.
- Keep repeating this until the batter is used up. After the fourth layer, put the springform pan at the lowest height of the oven. After baking the last layer, set the oven to 300 °F (150 °C) top and bottom heat.
- Now cover the springform pan with aluminum foil. Return the form to the oven for fifteen minutes. Take out and remove the aluminum foil.
- Let it cool to room temperature and then remove the springform.
- Use all ingredients at room temperature. Butter and eggs take in more air at room temperature. This makes the cake smoother.
- If you want to see the layers well on the outside, cut a thin layer off the edge of your cake.
Use a grease-free, clean bowl and clean mixing hooks to beat the egg whites. And make sure that no egg yolk (not even a tiny amount) gets into the egg whites. Fat ensures that the egg whites can no longer be beaten stiff.
- * Stay near the grill. Every grill is different and has its own power. The time is a guideline, but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
- Start by baking the thousand layers of cake in the middle of the oven. Because the cake gets higher and higher through the layers, you have to put it in the oven after layer four on the lowest height. Otherwise, it will burn.
- If you don't get the batter evenly spread, let it stand for a minute. The butter in the batter will melt slightly due to the warmth of the baked cake and you can spread it out without damaging the previous layer.
- You cannot use a convection oven with this recipe. The cake will then become too dry. Use a conventional oven with bottom and top heat in combination with a grill.
- Store at room temperature, in an airtight container. This keeps it good for up to three days.
- Freeze the layer spice cake (or part of it). Pack it in a freezer box or bag. The cake keeps well in the freezer for up to two months.